In the space of one hour on Sunday 21st January 2018, life as we knew it came to an end.
At six o’clock I got up and began to make the usual morning preparations. I went into the bathroom and Purdey, my constant shadow, tried to follow me. She couldn’t – she had lost the use of her back legs. We cuddled her, we coaxed her, hoping against hope that this was just the morning aches and pains of an old dog. Then we called the emergency vet.
We took her to the surgery, not our usual one but an affiliate. The vet was kind, but a stranger to us. She stroked Purdey, listened to her heart, did a few tests. Her face told us the story. Yes, we could have prolonged the agony, given Purdey a few extra hours or a day, but the outcome would have been the same and we would have had to watch her struggle.
At seven o’clock we left the surgery without her. She was just three months shy of her 16th birthday, and she had been in our lives for fourteen and a half years. In that time se had turned our whole way of life upside down.
We now live in Sussex because of her. Because of her I embraced caravan holidays – a thing I swore I’d never do. She starred in a You-tube video (Rosemary and Angela thought they were the stars – they were wrong). She inspired me to write a book.
It’s too soon for happy memories, yet. Instead we have those micro-milliseconds of forgetting: checking for poo bags in my left-hand pocket; making sure that the dustbin is secure and that food is pushed back out of ‘furry nose range’; walking round her cushion, which is no longer there; opening the back door for her last thing at night. And then we remember, and remembering tears the heart out of us. But these are the worst times, and worst times eventually get better.
And she’s still with us. No, I don’t think she’s ‘watching over us’. I don’t believe she has ‘gone to a better place’ or that she’s ‘waiting at the rainbow bridge.’ But she’s there: in our hearts and our minds and our memories, and in that bubble of laughter when we turn to each other and say: ‘do you remember when she…’
So this is my tribute to Purdey. She was a dog. Some people will understand what a dog can mean to you, others not. So be it. She was pretty – everyone agreed on that. She was feisty and funny, wilful and affectionate, she was occasionally infuriating – and a terrible thief.
We loved her; we always will. That’s it.